I’ve started animating again. Although this set may seem large, animating on it is a little cramped. I love having a ceiling but getting the camera in there can be a challenge. Plus I have to crouch down every time I adjust the puppet. As you can see there is a light fixture in full view on the set. It’s connected to a dimmer switch allowing me simulate the light flicker coming from the fireplace. Once a shot is done I can remove the light, insert the clean background and add flames. The end result (pictured) is some really nice interactive lighting. Those types of effects have to be planned carefully. Done right they are invisible but are really effective in creating an overall aesthetic for the film.


There’s a tendency in stop motion to over light sets. After spending all that time building puppets, sets and props the last thing I’m going to do is place a couple of fixtures 10 feet away, turn them on and think I’m good to go. Flat lighting is one of the dead giveaways of an inexperienced filmmaker (that and bad sound … don’t get me started) I spend days working out the lighting. I move them all over the place, use different intensities, coloured gels, diffusion, flags, and scrims. I take a lot of stills from all angles to make sure I’m getting exactly what I want. Some sets I can get by with 3 or 4 lights. Other times I’m hitting them with 10 or 12 lights. This set has 7 lights on it right now and I think it may be ready. It just takes a little practice and willingness to experiment to develop an eye for lighting a miniature effectively.


I spent much of the week making props. Plates, shelves, a bed, fire wood, a saddle … all the paraphernalia that make a set come alive. I have a good idea as to where everything should go but I actually don’t have a final design/layout sketch for this set. The more films I make the more I find myself just working by instinct. As long as I know where all the action takes place I’m pretty comfortable just placing the main set pieces down and then filing in the holes.




Once I have the dimensions it usually doesn’t take very long to make a significant dent in the construction of a new set. Being as this is the interior of the cabin from earlier I already have an established look so that makes it easier. I know where I’m going. The fine detailing will take a little time but there’s no reason this set shouldn’t be ready by the end of the month. There are two big scenes in this room which will get me about a third of the way through filming.



Every scene has a shot or two that require a ridiculous amount of set up. You know the ones I’m talking about, those cool shots with the weird camera angles that show off how clever you are as a director. I leave those shots to the very end of a set’s life because they often require me to literally tear the set apart to get what I’m looking for. The two I needed for this scene are now done and this set has been dismantled. A nice way of saying it’s been trashed. As I write this my table sits empty awaiting the next location.